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Altaf Qadri  /  AP
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano addresses media at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011. Napolitano said on Saturday she will send more U.S. experts to train Afghan police and customs officials to better manage the country's porous border crossings. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
The Associated Press
updated 1/1/2011 5:28:06 AM ET 2011-01-01T10:28:06

The U.S. will send more American experts to train Afghan police and customs officials to better manage the country's porous border crossings, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Saturday, noting that such training was critical to preparing for the eventual exit of foreign troops.

Napolitano will also meet with President Hamid Karzai and his ministers of finance and interior before leaving for Qatar later in the weekend. She did not say what she would discuss with them, but for the past year her department has been working with the Afghan government establish a border security and customs system and crack down on the smuggling of drugs and cash.

She said 52 former U.S. customs and border patrol officers would arrive in Afghanistan in 2011. The homeland security department currently has 25 agents on the ground, up from 11 a year ago.

Halting the flow of billions of dollars of cash from Afghanistan is a top U.S. priority there. Since 2007, an estimated $3 billion in cash has flowed out of Afghanistan through the country's two major airports, most of it to Dubai, according to Afghan police and intelligence officials.

While taking large amounts of money is not illegal under Afghan law, the scope of the transfers has alarmed U.S. and other international officials because it could be diverted aid funds, drug money or Taliban cash.

Napolitano said training border police and customs officials was an important part of NATO's overall aim to transition security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014 — when most foreign combat troops are expected to leave the country.

In southern Afghanistan, the U.S.-led coalition said one of its service members was killed by a bomb — the first to die in the new year. It did not provide details.

Last year was by far the deadliest for foreign troops in the decade-old war, with 702 killed, eclipsing the 2009 record of 504.

NATO also said it killed at least eight insurgents and captured a Taliban leader in several operations throughout Afghanistan. It was unclear whether the Taliban leader was killed or detained.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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